Pakistan's Political Crisis: Did Washington Cause "Regime Change" in Islamabad?

Did the U.S. make it clear to Pakistan in 2022 that Imran Khan was not acceptable as the prime minister of the South Asian country? Did the Pakistani military then use the Opposition parties led by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to remove Imran Khan from power through a successful No-Confidence vote in the parliament? The answer to both of these questions appears to be a resounding "yes" based on the leaked contents of a secret diplomatic cable, the actions of the Opposition politicians and the attempts to dismantle the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the jailing of Imran Khan on trumped-up charges. These events have created significant political instability in the country and prompted former US National Security Advisor John Bolton to urge the Biden administration to take a clear position before the “terrorists, China and Russia take advantage” of the situation.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and General Asim Munir

Diplomatic Cable:

A leaked diplomatic cable from Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan quotes Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia in the Biden Administration, as saying,  “I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington because the Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister. Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead.”

In answer to a question at a recent press conference, the US State Department spokesman Mathew Miller has essentially confirmed the contents of the diplomatic cable. 

This appears to have been enough for the then Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa to orchestrate the passage of the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan with the help of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and other politicians who ganged up on Imran Khan. 

PTI Dismantled, Imran Khan Jailed:

The Pakistani military did not just content itself with removing Imran Khan from power. A campaign to dismantle Khan's political party, the largest party in the country that ruled the country and two of its four provinces, is in full swing. A Gallup poll in February this year reported that 61% of voters approved of Imran Khan. His support is the strongest among young people who make up the bulk of the population. 

The jailing of Imran Khan and mass arrests of his party members are sending a clear signal that Pakistan's most popular leader, based on recent polls, is no longer acceptable to the military. The US government has remained silent in the middle of this mass crackdown in Pakistan. Washington appears to be unconcerned about civil liberties and democracy in Pakistan. 

US Interests in South Asia:

Are the US interests in South Asia best served by destabilizing strategically-located nuclear-armed Pakistan? Polls indicate that Imran Khan remains the most popular politician in Pakistan. The removal of his government from power and the dismantling of his party are increasingly turning ordinary Pakistanis against the United States. 

In an interview with Voice of America (VOA) Urdu service this week, former National Security Advisor John Bolton said he “worries about” the Biden administration’s foreign policy about South Asia because “it’s not clearly defined”.  

Replying to another question asked by VOA, Mr Bolton said Biden administration officials “don’t know what their strategic imperatives are. And it’s been confused and inarticulate on the situation in Pakistan”.

Here's a video clip of US State Department Mathew Miller's Press Conference:


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